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"There's just something about the place" – an exploration of students' relationships with their university

Grainger, Jenny (2015) "There's just something about the place" – an exploration of students' relationships with their university. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

This research has been undertaken in response to the recent changes to the Higher Education environment driven by the UK government. In particular the increased competitiveness caused by the removal of the Student Number Control and the demand for universities to provide more, and specific, factual information for students (ie the Key Information Set) which can be compared across different institutions.
The focus on quantitative measurement appears to leave a gap in the information that is provided for potential students. Currently information does not address the intangible elements of the student experience, what the "something about the place" is that leads them to develop a sense of attachment or belonging. The research is therefore undertaken from a qualitative perspective in order to try to explore this. The research assumes that some feeling of attachment or belonging is important to students' university experience. If current students are able to describe this it is possible that this new information could be used to inform marketing communications with potential students. This will allow those responsible for higher education marketing and student recruitment to demonstrate to potential students how they will be able to fit in to a university environment and develop a feeling of attachment/belonging. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) has been employed to draw themes from individual conversations with students, and a follow up focus group. The literature review has developed as the research has progressed. It began with consideration of studies on student engagement, then brand communities, from a marketing perspective. This direction was led by the researcher‘s prior knowledge and experience. However, the brand community literature did not appear to address the missing insight which had been established from the review of current information and the pilot conversation. This gap, and aspects of the brand community literature then led to a review of the literature around place attachment. It is here that links have been found to the experiences the students have described. The research concludes that there are themes around which future marketing communications can be based to address the current gap in information available to potential students – and that these can usefully be guided by theories of place attachment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Schools: The Business School
Depositing User: Elizabeth Boulton
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2015 11:14
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2016 19:01
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/24970

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